What an auspicious New Moon, occurring on Imbolc–one of my favorite cross-quarter holidays. The need to cleanse and refresh our lives at this time is coded in our DNA, as humans have been honoring this turn on the wheel for milennia. Below is what my good friend shaman and poet Jane Galer has to say about the holiday. She’s launching her new book, Becoming Hummingbird, on this date!
Whether you live in northern snow, or the southwestern sun, or the green and wet isolation of the coast like I do, I hope you come to this day of midwinter with a sigh and a sense of peace. Imbolc (pronounced Im-olc) is the ancient Celtic day that marks the halfway point between the solstice and the equinox. This is a cross-quarter day then, a reminder that time is moving and we have obligations. In ancient times, perhaps we simply cleaned out our fireplace, set aside a burning taper, cleaned out the ashes, and then kindled the warming fires of winter again. This was a safety issue, a housekeeping issue, and yet it has deeper implications. This is a night time moment, a time to clear out the “ashes” of our lives, kindle a stronger fire, a stronger sense of purpose for ourselves. This is a time to notice whether we have done the work of winter. Have we told the stories we need to tell? Have we rested, feasted, and shared our hearth with our larger community?
When Christianity came to the Celts, Imbolc became Candlemas. February 2nd, a fixed date instead of the mutable date engendered by Sun reaching the middle of Aquarius. Candlemas suggests a lovely ceremony. Gather those you connect with around a fire, each with a candle and a prayer; sing, feast, share and encourage the great work of winter. Make a circuit or procession with candle as your only light. Honor grandmother Moon, the candle is her light. Slow down, it’s winter, remember the ancestors and their stories, dream deeply.
Jane Galer, is an award winning poet and author who trained with the Q’ero indigenous shaman of the high Andes of Peru.